Mowbray Park rape suspect still at large

The area near the ornamental bridge in Mowbray Park which has been sealed off as a crime scene.
The area near the ornamental bridge in Mowbray Park which has been sealed off as a crime scene.
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A RAPE suspect is still at large as police continue to appeal for information following an alleged sex attack on two teenagers in Mowbray Park.

The attacker is said to have sexually assaulted the 15-year-old before raping her 16-year-old friend on Monday evening.

The assaults are said to have taken place near the small footbridge next to the pond, overlooked by Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.

The attack comes less than three months after a woman was reportedly raped in broad daylight in the same park on September 22. A man is set to appear in court later this month charged with the September rape.

Northumbria Police have deployed extra officers to the area in a bid to reassure the public, and have been sifting through CCTV footage from the area.

Detectives are appealing for witnesses – specifically anyone who saw anything suspicious in or around Mowbray Park just before 7pm on Monday – in particular a man in company with two girls.

Sunderland Superintendent Ged Noble said: “These are extremely serious allegations and we’re doing everything possible to piece together what has happened and establish the circumstances.

“We understand incidents such as this cause concern in the community and I’d like to reassure people we’re doing everything possible to trace this man.

“Obviously this is extremely distressing for the two teenage girls and specialist officers are providing the support they need at this time.

“Extra patrols are taking place in the area and residents should speak with local officers if they have any information or concerns.”

Speaking about the attack on the teenagers, one married couple who regularly use the park to walk in said they were “sickened”.

“It’s a shocking and disgusting thing to happen to two young girls,” said the woman, 70, who lives near the park with her 72-year-old husband.

“I come through here almost every morning but I wouldn’t come near the place at night.”

One woman who walks through the park with her children said the incident didn’t come as a shock.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all,” she said. “There are people here drinking when it gets dark. We only come here in the daylight because it isn’t safe at night.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 ext 69191, quoting reference 1047 08/12/14, or independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

• Craig Watson, 26, of Hendon, has been charged with the rape on September 22. He will appear at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court on December 23.